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Players vote to reject offer, decertify union. Season likely doomed.

Nov 14, 2011, 2:08 PM EDT

NBPA Meet To Discuss Current CBA Offer Getty Images

This is Armageddon. Nuclear winter is upon NBA fans.

The players got together in New York on Monday and not only voted to reject the league’s ultimatum offer, but voted to start the process to decertify the union.

“We’ve arrived at the conclusion that the collective bargaining process has completely broken down, and as a result in the last hour we have served a notice of disclaimer on (David) Stern and the NBA,” union director Billy Hunter said after the meeting. “We plan to disseminate that to all 30 teams. …

“The players are not ready to accept the ultimatum. They thought it was completely unfair on the part of the NBA ownership and management. … We have negotiated in good faith for two years, but the players have felt they have given enough.”

That step — a notice of disclaimer essentially says the union has no interest in representing the players in negotiations any longer and is abandoning that right — is the first step in anti-trust lawsuits that will be filed by players in the coming days. This is the step the NFL players’ union took and something agents have pushed the NBA union to do since July. The timing essentially blows up the negotiating process when there wasn’t a lot of time left to save the 2011-12 season.

The courts move slowly, but the union has reached its breaking point. It has gone to the one, big card it could play.

The reaction of the owners will be to hunker down, play hardball and try to force their entire wish list — such as salary rollbacks and a hard salary cap — on the players. The owners are not going to be scared by this at all.

Basically, Commissioner Stern is going to let his hardliners have the run of the place. Guys who were already willing to miss a season get to have their way.

Meanwhile, NBA fans lose. And so does the league.

“This is where it stops for us as a union,” said Derek Fisher, union president.

It might be where a lot of fans stop if a full season is lost. But the union is moving forward with these plans.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo, several players have hired top anti-trust attorney David Boies. If the name is familiar, he was involved in the NFL’s anti-trust cases. Boies is the guy who had the anti-trust cases against Microsoft (and had some success there) and he was they guy representing Al Gore in Gore vs. Bush.

Technically, what this legal move does is turn the union into a “trade association” that works for the players but does not represent them in negotiating a CBA. Ultimately when a deal is struck, the union will reform.

Stern did not back down in an interview on ESPN, saying the players got bad advice on negotiating tactics if this was their move.

“It’s not going to work,” Stern said. “If they were going to do this, maybe they should have done this a long time ago so we had a chance to save the season. But they seem hell-bent on self-destruction.”

The league already has filed a lawsuit trying to block decertification of the union, and there have been arguments on the players’ efforts to have that case dismissed (but no ruling yet). That situation just becomes a lot more messy.

The players’ announcement came after about a four-hour meeting where about 50 players were looking at a take-it-or-leave-it offer from the league. That deal offered the players a 50/50 share of league revenue (once the owners took a healthy cut of expenses off the top) and a much more restrictive system of player movement than had been allowed before. The offer the players had wanted would have returned about $280 million a season (in last year’s dollars) to the owners, but the players wanted a less restrictive system. The owners had long said the two were not tied. It wanted both the money and the system changes.

Stern has said that if the players rejected this offer, the owners would counter with a “reset” offer that would give the players just 47 percent of basketball related income (down from 50 in the last offer and 57 percent last season) and a hard salary cap. The players’ meeting was well-attended and featured not only team representatives but also Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook and many other star players. They all raised their hands in the press conference and said they supported this move.

Stern has warned the players against decertification and called it a “nuclear option.” The players just pushed the button.

It is a dark, dark day for the NBA.

156 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. espionageaficianado - Nov 14, 2011 at 6:12 PM

    While, this story has two sides of who’s to blame and finger-pointing, what has been interpreted to the public via media is that the players rejected a 50/50 split in revenues, etc. It’s still multi-million dollars where a kid out of college with the talent can make great money, great benefits, have women grope, and play a sport where only a few can command. I’d say the union and players really ****ed up!

  2. Capt.Ahab - Nov 14, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    Aw man, what a bummer!! Lebron won’t be able to take his talents to South Beach.

    • rlquall - Nov 15, 2011 at 7:57 PM

      And, don’t that moby up your duck, Capt. Ahab!

  3. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Nov 14, 2011 at 6:40 PM

    Sucks to be you, basketball fans. NHL fans know exactly how you must be feeling right now…we just don’t care. I for one am going to enjoy a year without the world’s most boring game taking up precious airtime

    • rlquall - Nov 15, 2011 at 7:58 PM

      I LOVE THIS LOCKOUT! (</snark)

  4. jollyjoker2 - Nov 14, 2011 at 6:47 PM

    This whole anti trust angle boggles the mind. I mean, how do the players argue— without laughing —to a judge that the owners are participating in anti trust activity when they willingly sign a league wide revenue agreement . A rational judge wll tell them to take there joke and hit the road when it came to damages. So than, no damages? Where do these players go? Do the players state that each owner has to come up with their own contracts for players. Yeah, right. The owners will be on the private golf course stating no one gets in unless we all get in. That type of deal, the players can forget it.

  5. lphboston - Nov 14, 2011 at 6:49 PM

    When/if the NBA comes back, make it leanrer and meaner.

    Contract a few teams, disperse those players onto less-talented teams. Allow the players to come back only at vastly reduced salaries and with more-restrictive free agent rules that make it easier to keep players on the teams that draft them.

    Market it as a league of teams rather than individuals. Instruct the referees to call the game equally for all players, and to call traveling once and for all.

    Tell the players that they now work 10 months a year, and that when there are no games they are obligated to work as ambassadors for the teams in the community.

    Institute a two-strike policy regarding drugs, criminal behavior etc.

    The players have made a huge mistake. KG I love you and love what you’ve done for my Celtics, but you’re all going down the wrong path.

  6. melikefootball - Nov 14, 2011 at 6:49 PM

    As long as this will take in court the players might as well get use to beating up on the high school players at the local park……they had a good thing and blew it.

  7. jackbob12 - Nov 14, 2011 at 7:18 PM

    Who gives a s$%#, take your kids to a good high school game,then dinner. You’ll still have a nice donation for the basket on Sunday. And, it,ll be better for your family in the end.

  8. realdawg - Nov 14, 2011 at 7:24 PM

    Even though I’m commenting, I find this entire discussion a waste of time. NBA players are a bunch of overpaid whiners. I have played basketball for 40 years, still can say that its only a game, nothing more. Pro basketball has no redeeming social value and wouldn’t be missed if it were discontinued forever. Sponsership for the NBA via television has resulted in an increased cost for almost all products that a person may buy. So we (all of us) are paying extra because of this pro league and other pro leagues, whether ever go to a game or see one on TV. It’s sad that our society places so much value on something that really has no value to our everyday lives. I’m sticking with college basketball! Good bye NBA.

  9. thenmoveback - Nov 14, 2011 at 9:52 PM

    ” won’t somebody think of the children! “

  10. basketballfan4life - Nov 15, 2011 at 12:55 AM

    As my handle states, I am a basketball fan. College and most assuredly, Professional Basketball. The NBA to be more specific. For those of u that are not fans and feel the need to chuck insults at the players or basketball for that matter, why are u here? To say nothing would be ur best showing of dislike for the sport and the players associated.

    To those that feel the players are at fault.

    Point 1
    The individuals that purchase NBA teams assume the risk and responsibility of running a successful franchise. With that comes the choice to allow work or to stop it. Hence the lockout. The players can not create a lockout. As u have expressed over again, they are employees.

    Point 2
    Under the old CBA, the owners agreed to give their employees a 57 percent split of BRI after a very long negotiation period. A lockout that didn’t end until Feb. of 1999. The majority of the owners now, were owners then. That 57% of BRI is a fixed expense. Which means, there is no change in in the expense as it pertains to team salaries. What is not fixed are the salaries of front office staff, coaches, trainers, travel, lodging and other costs in running a franchise. These costs are managed by the franchises management staff. So if they bring in a player and give him a max deal, it falls within that fixed expense of 57%. No if they bring in a big time coach to replace the existing coach and pay them 5 million when the former coach was making 2 million, that cuts into a teams profit margin.

    Point 3
    As stated in point 2, the players when given, by the owners, 57% of the BRI. 2 and a half years ago, the owners and the union began negotiating a new CBA. The owners said they have lost 300 million a year dating back to 2005 or 2006. I am not sure if those years are correct, but I do know the owners say they have been losing money for years. The owners are blaming it on players salaries, which again are fixed expenses and based in the revenue the the league brings in. For example:
    If the league makes 3 billion, the players get 57% of 3 billion. If the league makes 4 billion. U see how this works? Right?

    Now the players, under negotiations that started 2 and a half years ago, agreed to give back 4% of the BRI. For those that don’t understand what that means, the employees took a pay cut so that the owners of the franchises can manage a profit. When u go from 57% to 53%, that is giving, not asking.

    Point 4
    The owners feel that they have the upper hand in the negotiation process, so they are demanding more. With what the players have offered, the owners share of the BRI increases form 43% to 47%. Which is a reflection of what the players have dedicated to the league. A desire for franchises to be profitable. This wasn’t satisfactory to the owners, they want more. So the players eventually gave them more. 48.5% of BRI was to go to the owners. This was not satisfactory to the owners, they wanted more.

    Point 5
    Greed is defined by those that consume. Example: If u come home and notice that ur son ate all of the potatos from dinner and only left u one piece of chicken and a couple scooped of peas, u would label him “greedy”. If u come home and ur wife was on her way out to shopper and she hit u up for money, when u saw her take money from ur wallet that morning, u would label her “greedy”. Now if ur son saw that u didn’t have any potatos, and give u some, or ur wife put money in ur wallet, they would be gives not takers.

    They owners are the only group taking and the players are the givers.

    Lasted and final point…
    Point 6
    Mr. Leearmon, u have been one of a bee few level headed individuals on this blog and u are correct in ur assessment of it. It seems that those that toss around comments that are very questionable in nature, seem to get posted, but those that are about the sport seem to be rejected. Many of my comments aren’t posted and there is a chance that this one won’t be either. It is a shame. To those of u that are missing the boat. This is about a sport that many of is truly love. I could care lease about child support, tattoos or bling. I Want To Be Entertained. PERIOD…

    We don’t know these gentlemen to place judgement on them. I respect that it took a great deal of work and constant sacrifice to do what they do to entertain people like myself. That is where it ends. When they are on the court, they are basketball players. When they walk off, they are men. Regular people. As u can see, I didn’t need to insult the owners because I side with they players. Why? Because that are regular people too.

    Get a f***ING life and when it comes to morality, start looking in the mirror and asked urself why u refer to people u don’t know as thugs.

  11. mjr035 - Nov 15, 2011 at 1:09 AM

    Great! More time for hockey!

  12. dunkeroo - Nov 15, 2011 at 2:45 AM

    Advisory to wives and girl friends in NBA cities: Your man is coming home and he’s pissed! Hide the booze, drugs, and guns and run for your lives!

  13. balledoutdotcom - Nov 15, 2011 at 5:23 AM

    SO many great ballers all over the world NBA players should take deal. College Hoops loaded this year with unbelievable talent. Hate to say it but a shortened season would be exciting just hoping the entire season is not cancelled. Brandon Knight is going to have a Monster year hes the next great thing in the NBA.

  14. basketballfan4life - Nov 15, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    This post is for u Kurt. How is it possible that someone reading ur blog can post 8 consecutive comments, 9 in total, but I can attempt to post one and it is rejected. Nothing I said was inflammatory. Is it that u don’t want individuals with level or tamed thinking , that arent insulting other people or different ethnic groups? Are u like most media groups and entertainment that feed on drama and controversies. The shame is u deleted a post by 06mustage for comments made, but my comment couldn’t be posted at all.

    Shame. Enjoy ur piece of the world and reign as u will

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